Warwickshire need 337 runs with eight wickets standing to defeat Hampshire...
Warwickshire face a grim and unequal fight for survival on the last day of their Championship match against Hampshire.
Set 407 for a highly improbable victory, Warwickshire's more pressing task is to survive 129 overs on a pitch providing copious assistance to the world's greatest leg-spinner.
What a hospitable place Edgbaston is! Had Shane Warne prepared it himself, he could hardly have been presented with a more helpful surface on which to bowl. Dry, dusty and turning square; just as he likes it.
It's not as if he needs any assistance. Yesterday morning he completed the 60th five-wicket haul of a remarkable career, slicing through Warwickshire's lower order with depressing haste. It will take great batting, or a great storm to deny him today.
This was a day of little cheer for home supporters. Hopes of extending the first innings were quickly extinguished in the morning, while the disdain with which the visiting batsmen treated Warwickshire's bowling in the second innings was brutal. Warwickshire have been outplayed throughout this match.
A visitor to the ground brought some cheer, however. Daniel Vettori landed in England early in the morning and paid a brief visit to Edgbaston a little while later. His arrival provides some cause for optimism among team-mates who require his input urgently.
Jim Troughton at least provided some respite. He had to battle hard for the 25 runs he needed to complete the tenth first-class century of his career yesterday morning, but is the only one of Warwickshire's batsmen to make more than 25 so far this match.
It is three years since he has made a century at Edgbaston, just before his ill-fated England call-up, but the quality of this innings provides legitimate hope that his best may be yet to come.
His partners were less impressive. Dougie Brown, all at sea against Warne, perished as he tried to heave against the spin, before Tony Frost squandered his wicket with an irresponsible attempt at a sweep that gifted a simple catch off the top edge.
The rest followed quickly. Heath Streak was caught on the back foot, Neil Carter was outclassed by a sharply turning leg-break before Troughton was out-thought by a beautifully tossed up ball that darted in to beat his drive.
Despite a first innings lead of 188, Hampshire declined to enforce the follow-on. Instead they looked to bolster their advantage with quick runs.
James Adams raced to his highest Championship score with 85 off 105 balls (five fours and three sixes), with Dimitri Mascarenhas (41 off 51 balls, fours fours and a six) and Thornely (30 not out off 16 balls, three sixes) adding support.
Warwickshire's tactics were puzzling. Rather than burden the senior bowlers, Streak utilised his part-timers with limited success before returning to his tried and trusted seamers later on. All, except the captain, were treated with equal brutality.
Jonathan Trott at least had the satisfaction of a wicket. Though he was treated harshly, the club have all-round aspirations for him, so the wicket of Mascarenhas, caught at long-on, will have been encouraging.
The worst of the punishment was handed out to Brown. Thornely thrashed him for three successive sixes in an over that cost 25, including one that crashed through the windows of the radio box atop the pavilion. Much to the fright of the two journalists inside.
Brown doesn't deserve such ignominy. He was only bowling because his captain could trust nobody else with the job. Brown has bowled 44 overs in this game and has answered every call from his captain with another committed spell; a Herculean effort for a man of his age. Many of the younger bowlers at the club could learn much from his spirit.
Warwickshire promoted Carter to open in the second innings, but the ploy met with limited success. Carter pulled a couple of sixes, but soon holed-out attempting another, while Trott chopped a ball too full for the shot on to his stumps.
Ian Westwood impressed, however, and has already batted for nearly two hours. This may prove to be his last chance in the Championship, but he looks far more assured and compact than previously. It would be a shame if he were to be jettisoned just as his form is returning.
* The Thwaite Gates, the historic entrance to Edgbaston, will be reopened from today for the first time in several years following a campaign by the club's members.